Business/Economy

The WBFO Business & Economy News Desk is funded by The M&T Charitable Foundation.

A week ago, Buffalo hosted a pack of investors from out of town for an event known as the Venture Forum. Dozens of promising local start-up companies aimed to make the best impression on these investors to secure funding and leapfrog their competition.

Reporter Daniel Robison followed one of those small businesses through the process and filed this report.

 

Clarence-based Greatbatch, Inc. is relocating its corporate headquarters to Frisco, Texas. 

The medical device manufacturer announced today that some top executives will move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area this summer, and further shifts will be considered as warranted.  The company says the move will allow it to operate in a stronger, more centralized business environment. 

New county-wide land bank to be one of first in NYS

May 17, 2012
Photo provided by City of Buffalo

The City of Buffalo and Erie County are celebrating the approval of a county-wide land bank.  

The City of Buffalo learned Thursday from Governor Cuomo that Empire State Development approved the land bank.  It will be one of the first to be created in the state.

Western New York is already a popular destination for Canadian shoppers, but local tourism officials believe the region has greater potential.

Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Dotty Gallagher-Cohen says a new study was designed to show local businesses who their Canadian customers really are.

"What we hope to do is take what's happening organically and devise some strategies to increase the frequencies and the lengths of stay of people who come here," Gallagher-Cohen said.

WBFO News photo / WBFO News

There is an increasing focus on the long-awaited re-writing of Buffalo's zoning code.  New discussions will also get underway soon regarding the possible re-use of the iconic Trico Building in downtown Buffalo.

This is part of this week's Press Pass conversation with WBFO & AM-970's Chris Jamele and Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly.

 

WBFO News file photo

One of Wall Street's premiere bond rating agencies has upgraded Buffalo's bond rating to A1. 

City Comptroller Mark Schroeder says Moody's decision follows a complimentary report it wrote about Buffalo's diversifying economy and a meeting he and top financial officials in the Brown Administration and City School District had with the "big three" bond ratings agencies in New York City a month ago. 

Schroeder told WBFO News he thinks the upgrade reflects Moody's view that Buffalo is finally ready to "move forward."

WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

The national numbers portray an improving employment picture, but the count of hundreds at a Wednesday job fair in Niagara Falls shows a gloomier, more desperate reality.

WBFO and AM970's Mark Leitner visited the fair and spoke with many of the attendees.

The day, perhaps, offered a microcosm of the nation's changing economy.
 

Daniel Robison / WBFO

Only seven percent of plastic waste in the United States is recycled each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A startup company in Niagara Falls says it can increase that amount and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil at the same time.

It all starts with a machine affectionately known as the "Plastic-Eating Monster." Thousands of pounds of shredded milk jugs, water bottles and grocery bags tumble into a large tank, where they're melted together and vaporized. This waste comes from landfills and dumps from all over the United States.

Niagara Falls carrier Direct Air files for bankruptcy

Mar 16, 2012

Direct Air, which suddenly suspended its flights this week into and out of Niagara Falls International Airport, filed for bankruptcy today.  The Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-based airline is seeking Chapter 11 protection. 

Papers filed with a bankruptcy court in Massachusetts indicate liabilities between $10 million and 50 million.  The Buffalo News reports Direct Air owes $88,000 in landing fees to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. 

Policy adviser Bruce Katz speaks at Buffalo City Forum

Mar 14, 2012
Photo by Eileen Koteras Elibol/WNED Art Director and Photographer

When Governor Andrew Cuomo promised a “billion for Buffalo” earlier this year, he promised to draw on the expertise of Bruce Katz with the Brookings Institution.

“There already is a buzz nationally about the Buffalo billion,” Katz told the crowd of 200 at “Buffalo City Forum” on Wednesday at WNED’s downtown studios.

In his address, he hinted at his vision for how the billion will be spent.

The Buffalo metro area contains about six percent of state’s jobs and population. The ultimate goal of Cuomo’s billion will be to boost both of numbers and make it stick.

More than 175 local businesses looking to rebuild Western New York turned out for an Economic Action Summit on UB's North Campus this morning. 

The forum included eight workshops covering small business, infrastructure and commerce, agriculture and energy, and education.  The session was sponsored by Rep.Kathy Hochul.   

Photo from Maid of the Mist Website

The Maid of the Mist Tour boats will be operating on both sides of Niagara Falls this season.  But future operations of the boats along the Niagara River Gorge remain unknown.

“I think the Maid operating this year, on both sides and hopefully the New York side for a long time come,” said State Senator George Maziarz of Newfane after learning the Maid of the Mist will be moving forward with its tours at least for this year.  

The decision was issued Tuesday after Maid of the Mist officials completed discussions with the Niagara Parks Commission. 

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand believes Washington can move to slow rising gas prices with some short-term and some long-term solutions.

Gillibrand made her comments while making a stop in Western New York Monday.

Gillibrand  said the Strategic Petroleum Reserve can be tapped and she advocates on behalf of occasional furloughs from the gasoline tax.  In the long run, Gillibrand argues lawmakers can make a difference with better budget decisions.

WBFO and AM 970 now simulcasting

Mar 1, 2012
WBFO News photo

Two public radio stations are now one.  WNED's purchase of WBFO radio is final. WBFO and AM 970 are now simulcasting from WNED's downtown studios. 

WNED purchased WBFO from the University at Buffalo and will continue to provide NPR news and information programming. 

Programs such as All Things Considered, Morning Edition and On Point will continue.  Weekend programs include Car Talk, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and the blues. 

An updated program schedule is available at wbfo.org. 

Several WBFO staff members have also joined the AM 970 staff. 

Photo from Lloyd's Taco Truck

A downtown food truck operator has plans to expand its service a month after Mayor Brown signed new food truck rules into law.   The owners of Lloyd's Taco Truck has launched a campaign using Kickstarter -- a funding platform.  It allows supporters to pool additional funds needed for the truck’s down payment. 

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked to the co-owner of Lloyd's Taco Trucks, Peter Cimino. 

Come fly with me

Feb 29, 2012
WBFO News photos by Jim Pastrick

Beginning March 25th, Delta Airlines will increase its daily flights from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport to its new domestic New York hub, from six to nine flights daily.

Jet aircraft will replace the turbo-prop aircraft used on the air route.

WBFO's Jim Pastrick stepped on board and took a tour of Delta's Canadair CRJ-700 and talked to the flight crew.

WBFO News photo

Kaleida Health will close Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital in about six weeks.  That will create a major vacancy in a high-profile Buffalo location.

Recognizing the difficulty of reinventing the site, Kaleida is offering a $1-million grant to the developer with the best plan for the soon-to-be shuttered facility. 

Business First reporter Jim Fink says the donation -- although generous -- represents just a fraction of what's required to transform the building.

WBFO News file photo

Western New York Congresswoman Kathy Hochul was at home in her district Monday, addressing problems faced by small  businesses and calling for streamlining federal agencies.

WBFO News talked to Hochul about her call for improving the federal government's response to small businesses.

The Consolidation Authority Act would restore presidential power to re-organize federal agencies. That power that lapsed in 1984. Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, who represents New York's 26th congressional district, said Congress needs to approve the Act. Why?

Falls airport gets business boost

Jan 12, 2012
WBFO News photo by Jim Pastrick

A group of proponents for the Niagara Falls International Airport have announced the formation of a not-for-profit organization.  It's called the Niagara Falls Airport Stakeholder Group, Incorporated.

State Senator George Maziarz said the  Stakeholders Group and Niagara Falls International Airport would like to attract more charter airlines and passengers to the airport.

WBFO News photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged a $1-billion economic boost for the City of Buffalo in last week's state of the State address.  But Cuomo expects a return on that investment. 

In this week's Press Pass interview, Jim Fink of  Business First says it's now up to the public sector to identify the private sector projects that will produce the intended results.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Retailers across New York State are celebrating what is being deemed a successful holiday shopping season.  

The Retail Council of New York State is awarding the season an "A -minus"  in response to the strong finale. 

Rebecca Marion Flach is with the Retail Council.  She said it has been a "fantastic" season for retailers.

Assemblyman to IDAs: Stop Pirating Each Other

Dec 14, 2011

State Assemblyman Sean Ryan says if the Buffalo-Niagara region is to finally move forward in economic development, economic development agencies to stop the practice of one locality pirating a business away from a neighboring locality. 

Western New York Congresswoman Kathy Hochul spearheaded an opportunity for area small businesses to learn how they can tap into the international marketplace here in this region.

"Canada is such a strong partner of ours, and for an opportunity for our local business to learn how to export into Canada," noted Hochul.

The Small Business Export Forum was held on Saturday at ECC's North Campus. The forum was established as a means for introducing the region's business people to the available resources that will pave the way for broadening the audience for their products.

Buffalo, NY – A bid was accepted last week for the mothballed Statler Towers, but the $700,000 offered for the downtown landmark was significantly less than a recent bid for a piece of residential property in Buffalo.

That's one of the topics we cover this week as Business First reporter Jim Fink joins us for the Media Roundtable. Bert Gambini began his conversation with Jim by asking if there were concerns that the August 14th shootings outside the City Grill could hinder downtown development.

Chauauqua Institution, NY – The Publisher of the New York Times will be one of the featured speakers next week at the Chautauqua Institution summer lectures. Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. will discuss the role of journalism in a democracy in week three of the lecture series. WBFO'S Sarah Campbell has more in this week's Chautauqua Preview.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear the Chautauqua Preview now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.

Chautauqua Institution, NY – Russell Muirhead is associate professor of government at Harvard where for the past 5 years he's been teaching courses on work. His latest book is titled Just Work. He delivers Monday morning's lecture, week two, at the Chautauqua Institution, titled "The Promise of Fulfillment in the New World of Work."

Muirhead joins WBFO's Mary Van Vorst on this week's Chautauqua Preview. Click the "listen" icon above to hear her report.

Buffalo, NY – The Base Realignment and Closure Commission was in Buffalo Monday. Federal, state and local leaders rallied with citizens demanding that the Commission reverse the Pentagon's recommendation to close the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Following the rally, leaders delivered their testimony at the regional hearing.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Eileen Buckley's report.

Chautauqua Institution, NY – Political analyst and commentator Robert Kagan's latest book is titled "Of Paradise and Power," and it will be the starting point for his lecture next Wednesday morning -- week one -- at the Chautauqua Institution. His lecture is titled "America and Europe: Two Liberal Visions." The week's theme is "Europe Today and Tomorrow."

Robert Kagan joins Mary Van Vorst for our first Chautauqua Preview. Click the "listen" icon above to hear more.

Buffalo, NY – It's getting more expensive to operate a small business in a sluggish Buffalo Niagara economy. Health care and liability insurance and worker comp costs have some local business owners digging deep into their pockets to survive.

Coudersport, PA – The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into Adelphia's troubled financial situation. Adelphia officials are promising to cooperate in the probe.

The company announced last week that it has $2.3 billion in previously undisclosed debt.

Adelphia's stock price continued to drop Wednesday, but not by as much as in recent days. Adelphia closed at $11.04, down 79-cents from Tuesday. It had fallen under $10 for a time earlier in the day.

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